The Wee Man went to Barleylands for his school trip, and was very enthusiastic about the whole experience. Being a school trip, he also didn’t get to experience everything that Barleylands had to offer either – namely, the soft play areas, sand play and ball shooting arena. And the giant inflatable pillow!
Faced with three small children, a need to entertain them and a ticket for a free annual pass if I took him to visit before the end of July, I decided to go for it and so we all headed off today for a whole day of fun.
Arriving just after 10, I was pleased to see the nicely laid out car park and pushchair friendly wide entranceway which made getting into Barleylands nice and easy. The ticket prices were very reasonable, and I got 20% off by booking online (this can be done up to midnight the day before a visit). Being the summer holidays, there was also a whole programme of entertainments laid on, and there is a different theme each week of the summer too – this week it was ‘wacky races’.
Since it was hot and sunny today, I suggested we start with the big pillow (I know from experience they can get a bit on the toasty side after a few hours of sun!) and then make our way back through the park. The kids were happy to agree, and so the morning began with bouncing. The Wee Man was in his element, Bubby D was not so sure but she did love playing with the sand around the edge of it!
We bought a bag of feed each when we arrived, and so after a lot of bouncing we decided to see if the goats were hungry. They definitely were! Bubby D giggled in delight as they licked food from her open hand and even Little B enjoyed watching what they were up to. The Wee Man decided he’d rather give the geese a treat, and was very happy tipping feed down one of the various feeding chutes into the enclosures before watching them greedily gobble it up as it landed. There were lots of animals to look at, and all three kids loved the ‘meet and greet’ barn, where there were more goats, pigs, sheep, ferrets, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits, and even a donkey or two to interact with.
Once we were all animal-ed out, we went to do a bit of biscuit decorating before lunch. This involved animal shaped biscuits and various squeezy bottles of icing and didn’t take very long as an activity – five minutes later the biscuits were dripping in icing and being devoured!
Lunch was at the cafe, and the kids had a children’s meal each priced at £4.50. I was pleased with the variety on the menu although they didn’t take advantage of it – we ended up with two platefuls of sausages, chips and beans. The cafe had a lovely area full of toys though which kept them happily occupied for a fair time whilst I gave Little B a feed.
Next we went for a ride on the miniature train, which basically just goes up and down past a variety of wooden animal shapes. A free ride is included in the price of the ticket and it’s worth doing just for the novelty factor.
The soft play was next, and I did find it difficult to keep track of both kids as it’s not easily observable. There also aren’t that many seats, I did manage to get one in the end between the area for under 5’s and the larger area but it was busy and a little crowded, even for what seemed like a fairly quiet day. It was also a shame that the soft play cafe only takes cash – something I’ll definitely remember for next time as I was really thirsty by that point!
Following that, we took a stroll past the wacky races, which involved running around in various strange costumes for both staff and visitors; and then we reached the sand pits and ball arena. The kids were happy there, out of the sun, for two hours! Even Little B had a bit of a sit in the sand and a stare at the mini diggers being used to craft sandcastle masterpieces. I liked the fact that there were a lot of indoor options – I can imagine that on a rainy day it’s still well worth visiting.
One last stop via the big pillow, zipwire and swings and it was time to go home. We had stayed at Barleylands all day, and everyone was tired but happy. We didn’t even get round to a tractor ride or some of the talks and shows.
I definitely think it’ll be worth us going back again soon, it was a lovely day that appealed to all ages and I was very impressed with the facilities and variety of things on offer. Thank you Barleylands for saving my sanity in this first crazy week of the Summer Holidays!
Disclosure: I paid for our tickets myself and was not asked to write about our experiences.